Do you have a subject that you are interested in learning about that crosses more than one discipline? Students majoring in the Bachelor of Philosophy degree work with a faculty mentor to develop an individually tailored undergraduate major that enables students to pursue academic discovery unavailable through traditional majors and program concentrations.
The BPHIL program is appropriate for students who are self-motivated and whose intellectual or artistic approach requires work beyond the scope or disciplinary method associated with otherwise available majors.
An intercollege faculty committee working through Penn State’s Office of Undergraduate Education administers the BPHIL degree program. The mentor need not be a member of the committee. The intercollege faculty committee is responsible for admitting students, annually examining the progress of all students in the program, and approving the completion of degrees based on the certification made by a faculty mentor and the successful presentation of an appropriate capstone at a BPHIL seminar or other approved forum.
The admissions process asks students to: identify and secure the support of a faculty member who will serve as a mentor and adviser; examine carefully whether their undergraduate educational goals can be met through an existing academic major, or whether doing so requires a unique program of courses and activities; develop a proposed course of study that provides the academic breadth and depth associated with the completion of a disciplinary major; and attend a BPHIL admissions interview during which each of these issues and others may be discussed.
Faculty mentors assist students in planning their academic programs and in achieving their BPHIL goals. Students’ written or oral presentations and courses, labs, fieldwork, theses, projects, and performances, may provide some of the means through which mentors direct the learning path to document academic success.
Core skills developed while majoring in BPHIL, include:
- Critical thinking
Students can incorporate minors into their course of study, finding the combination that best compliments their BPHIL focus. Students should discuss their minor choice(s) with a faculty mentor.
To graduate, BPHIL candidates must present their project or thesis to select faculty. Students have the opportunity to share their work, explain the ways in which their scholarship contributes to the larger academic community and respond to faculty questions. Faculty may offer suggestions for revisions in order to accept the thesis or project or suggest continued work and a future reconsideration.
The final presentation will cover the ways in which the BPHIL curriculum creates a cohesive approach to knowledge that relates general education objectives with BPHIL goals and allows the student to reflect on the larger undergraduate experience, while strengthening the community both civically and socially.
Graduation and Beyond
Students in the BPHIL program are given the rare opportunity to choose a unique combination of study and innovation in order to prepare for a specific career path while still in school. Since students are able to tailor their BPHIL experience, students graduate with knowledge, research exploration and experience in their chosen field.